Results of Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale

Lots of interesting gems in Bonhams Fine Jewels sale on 21st September 2011 from a sizable blue diamond to C14th rings. Read our expert's comments on what to look out for.

Lot 26. An enamel and diamond pendant, by Lucien Falize, last quarter of the  19th century. Estimate £10,000-15,000. SOLD FOR £13,750

Lots of interesting gems in Bonhams Fine Jewels sale on 21st September 2011 from a sizable blue diamond to C14th rings. Read our expert's comments on what to look out for. Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale 21st September in London is a diverse auction so let's begin with the climax of the sale and the flavour of the month, Bulgari, Lot 200 (estimated £600,000- £800,000).  The house is the talk of the moment due to the sale of Elizabeth Taylor's jewels at Christie's in December as many of her pieces were made by this Italian jeweller. The firm began in the1880's when the skilled silversmith Sotirio Bulgari emerged from a little village in Greece to open a shop in Naples with a partner. They then moved the shop to Rome and in 1884 business was going so well for Sotirio that he opened his own shop which he gradually moved to better and better shop locations. In 1905 he settled into 10 Via Condotti, where you will still find the Bulgari name above the elegant shop entrance.  The firm loves colored stones and they are known for their use of simple lines and the combination of colored stones. The 1960's was the period when Bulgari designs flourished with big rocks and fancy cuts.  This diamondring emulates that era with its sinuous linear quality, varied cut diamonds and two colours. What makes this ring extra special is the fancy vivid blue pear shaped diamond weighing 3.78 carats and the certificate which tells us it is a natural and even colour. What a find! The other pear shaped diamond is 3.93 carats, D (this is the finest colour grade of a white diamond) and VS2 clarity, meaning that it is very slightly included. These inclusions would still be difficult to see to the untrained eye. The overall effect of the top quality diamonds, interesting cuts and crossover, sensual design is very impressive and luxurious. A lovely natural pearl necklace is up for sale in lot 197, estimated £70,000-£150,000. Natural pearls are becoming increasingly sought after as it begins to hit home that natural pearls are not found anymore making them incredibly special. The Gem & Pearl Laboratory certificate for this necklace states that they are natural pearls of saltwater origin, as opposed to freshwater.  Many natural pearls these days are mixed with cultured pearls but this whole necklace is natural which is rather significant.  Pearls are formed within the oyster, when calcium carbonate layers build up around an irritant such as a grain of sand. The reason natural pearls are not found anymore is because waters are too polluted where the oysters used to live. Therefore they are now farmed somewhat artificially in clean waters, mainly in China.  To find pearls that are of the same or very close colour and similar size is a very laborious and long process that would have involved opening hundreds upon hundreds of oysters.  This elegant and classic necklace has two rows of graduated pearls that culminate at a pretty floral diamond clasp that sits at the nape of your neck. The feel of natural pearls draped across you skin is quite wonderful. Lot 195 is an absolutely stunning Art Deco bracelet estimated £30,000-£50,000.  Not only is this beautifully made of rubies and diamonds but these are Burmese rubies which are the best rubies in the world.  Not only are they Burmese rubies but they have been geologically tested to prove that they have not been heat treated to enhance them, which means that their delicious pigeon blood red colour (which is the finest colour of all rubies) is totally 100% natural.  And to top it all off,  and to put the cherry, or should we say ruby, on the cake  these delightful rubies are more than likely to be from the Mogok mine. The Mogok mine is the best of the two main mines in Burma, the other is called Mong Hsu. Burmese 'no-heat' rubies are absolutely hot property at the moment. This lovely bracelet is dated circa 1930, and the angular, geometric cut of the stones and simple band design reflects the Art Deco style. But interestingly the milgrain setting is a characteristic of the Edwardian period. You can tell so much about jewellery from holding it, wearing it, touching it and this is a great example of a piece that really comes to life when you wrap it around your wrist. After all, jewellery is there to be worn!  With a fine jewel it is always important to look at the back of it, this should be almost as beautiful as the front, and this certainly is. The back holes of the settings are meticulously polished and shaped to fit each individual jewel. The top and bottom sides have exquisite detail. Lucien Falize was the son of celebrated goldsmith Alexis Falize, (see the Christies South Ken auction on the 20th April 2010). In lot 26, est £10,000-£15,000 and lot 27, est £6,000-£8,000, we see some beautiful enamel work in the form of a pendant and a bangle. Lucien joined his fathers firm in 1856 when he was just 17.  This would have been a fantastic place to train as a jeweller as Alexis was very well respected and the work they produced was truly fabulous. It is very good to train under a meticulous and strict eye as it teaches you to work precisely and to a high standard. The name Falize is associated with fine enamel work. Lucien himself discovered Japanese art at the International Exhibition in London and wanted to recruit native Japanese artisans to his workshop to learn from the  true experts and better their creations. It is obvious from looking at the front of the pendant that it is inspired by Indian jewellery; the shape the colour and the rope twist, diamond and gold bead detail around the edge of the piece.  A diamond floral design sits in the centre of the shape and the rest is decorated with cabochon red translucent enamel that sits between fine gold wires. The back of the pendant is a turquoise blue enamel with a pretty enamel flower motif and raised gold beads. The bangle has more of a Renaissance vibe to it.  This was actually made when Lucien went into partnership with Germain Bapst who descended from the crown jewellers, and the fitted case that it comes in is stamped 'Bapst & Falize' on the lovely dark green silk.  Again translucent red cabochon enamel lies on the surface of the bangle and this is overlaid with some beautiful chased gold lattice work. This frieze-like gold portrays some fantastical birds hunted by child warriors through scrolling foliage.  As always with the Falize jewels, the attention to detail is really magnificent, this golden frieze is sculpture in itself, let alone the rest of the bracelet.  Typically the interior is also beautifully executed with a repeated floral design in black and red cloisonné enamel.  In keeping with the Renaissance style of the bracelet, the hinges are quite solid looking and almost architectural. It is rather exciting and unusual to come across early jewellery so we almost jumped on the catalogue, scouring it with beady eyes when we saw lot 21 and lot 22! Lot 21, estimated £4,000-£6,000 is a gold and diamond ring probably from the 17th Century, that is the century the Taj Mahal was completed and when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet. The four closed-back table cut diamonds are set in a heavily-chased diamond shaped gold bezel with red enamel scroll detail at the sides.  Lot 22, estimated £4,000-£6,000 is a gold and emerald snake ring, thought to be of 14th-15th Century. It is incredible to think that this ring was probably made at the time of the Black Death.  This is rather crudely modeled on a serpent winding its way around the finger. The head is where the closed-back emerald is set, and the body is engraved to depict snakeskin. There are traces of blue enamel suggesting the original decoration of the ring was more elaborate and colorful than it is now. From the fantastic photographs of these rings you can see the early less-refined gold-work of such an early jewel, we can also see how the stone cutting and setting methods were much less sophisticated.  This is obviously due to the lack of light, tools, advanced technology and methods that are so abundant today and in later periods. These types of pieces are hidden treasures of rich and aristocratic times past, they are glimpses into historic periods which is what makes them so intriguing. Both of these gold rings have have lasted centuries as gold does not tarnish or corrode and were only discovered 60 years ago on the Norfolk/Suffolk boarder. Amazing to imagine how long it had been sitting underground how they emerged in such great condition!

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